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Bafarawa’s trial, Wamakko and the EFCC’s Shenanigans

The summary of that piece was to underscore the politicization of Bafarawa’s trial and the double standard employed by the Commission in the entire prosecution…

The summary of that piece was to underscore the politicization of Bafarawa’s trial and the double standard employed by the Commission in the entire prosecution process.  Farouk had quite intelligently proved his charge of double standard against the Commission by comparing the prosecution of Bafarawa with that of the former Nasarawa State Governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Adamu, both of whom were charged for alleged fraud totalling N15 billion apiece.

Read Farouk in part: “The politics of Sokoto, spiced with the national politics, where Bafarawa’s oppositional roles are unsettling governments at both levels may appear to exert their influence on the trial process; otherwise, my charge of double standard against the EFCC in comparison with the Adamu trial in Lafia would not have been founded.

“It is interesting that the Commission has chosen to arraign Bafarawa before a State High Court in Sokoto where his political enemy is incumbent governor.  Why didn’t the Commission charge him to a Federal High Court like it did to Adamu?  Again, why did the EFCC Counsel (Niyi Akintola, SAN) who is prosecution counsel in both cases oppose the bail application of Bafarawa while he did not oppose the oral application for bail by Adamu’s counsel (Pius Akubo)?”

Significantly, the writer was very forceful in his submission that the Commission, acting in concert with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-controlled government in Sokoto State and in Abuja, was on a deliberate mission to help these forces to humiliate Bafarawa for being a face of the burgeoning oppositional politics in the country.

Like it did in December last year, when he was first arrested at the venue of a meeting of the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and illegally detained, the Commission had calculated that it could pull through another stunt on Bafarawa on the premises of the Sokoto High Court on Wednesday, March 17.

The stage for the shenanigans by the Commission and the Sokoto State Government under the watch of Wamakko was set at the March 1, 2010 hearing of the corruption case when Bafarawa could not attend the hearing because he had travelled to London for a medical check-up.  Bafarawa’s counsel, Rickey Tarfa (SAN) had tendered before the court a letter by his client giving reasons why he could not appear in court.

The Commission’s counsel, Akintola had opposed Tarfa’s oral application for the understanding of the court and got the court to temporarily revoke Bafarawa’s bail earlier granted by it (court).  But the Commission did not apply for and so it did not secure an order of the court to arrest Bafarawa.  On his part, Bafarawa had declared from London that he was too distinguished to run away from the country because of his issues with the Commission.  He had assured that he would make himself available at the next sitting date (March 17), which he did.

Media reports and credible feelers from the court sitting indicated that immediately the matter was mentioned for hearing and appearances were announced, Bafarawa’s counsel, (Tarfa and Lateef Fagbemi, SAN) had drawn the attention of the court to the motion filed by his client at the Appeal Court, Sokoto, in which he prayed the court to reverse the temporary revocation of the bail granted him by the Sokoto High Court.

His counsel had also drawn the court’s attention to another prayer on the failure of the High Court to serve the new accused joined in the suit before the court with charges levelled against them.  The counsel had also told the court that he heard that officials of the EFCC were planning to arrest him (Bafarawa), pointing out that they were not aware of any bench warrant issued by the court against him and unless that was done, nobody had the right to arrest him.

The Commission’s Counsel was said to have told the court that the Commission did not have any order to arrest Bafarawa, but that with or without a bench warrant, no court could stop the police from arresting Bafarawa.   The judge was said to have declared that the statement by the Commission that it did not have a court order to arrest Bafarawa must have assuaged the concerns of Bafarawa’s counsel.

With that settled, the court considered and granted the application brought by Bafarawa’s counsel for stay of proceedings on the matter until April 7 by which time the Appeal Court must have heard and decided the motion before it on the temporary revocation of his earlier bail.

The obvious implication was that Bafarawa was leaving the court a free man since there was no order of the court that he should be arrested by the Commission.  Reports indicated that it was at that point that the Commission wanted to adopt extra-judicial and gangsterish method to hijack Bafarawa.  But for his teeming supporters who frustrated the bid, he would have been taken away, albeit unconstitutionally, straight into the Commission’s custody.

Bafarawa’s teeming supporters must be commended for stalling the Commission’s pranks.  The Commission did not have the legal right to arrest him.  To arrest him, it would need a warrant of arrest which only an order of court could give.

But how negatively will these shenanigans by the Commission and other intervening forces affect the Bafarawa prosecution in the ambiance of the judiciary, especially where the court is presided over by a fair-minded, just and God-fearing judge?  Time will tell.

 Kalgo, a public affairs commentator, contributed this piece from Abuja  

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